First let’s take a look at some of what has been done to date. All the slopes surrounding the playground have had erosion control measures taken. The bank facing Forest Hill Avenue has had soil added and native plants that will keep the soil in place. The giant hole you see if drive by today is courtesy of the city and a ticket has been written and Patrick Henry is waiting for it to be filled in so that repairs to the slope can be made. To control erosion on another slope a Historic Bayscape, which will soon be filled with native plants that Native Americans used in everyday life, and more traditional gardens have been installed. Closer to the building entrance it looks like twigs but soon will be a small orchard of fruit trees planted. The back of Patrick Henry is a relatively large parking lot. Prior to the school moving in all the runoff went straight from the asphalt into Reedy Creek. To prevent that water from entering the watershed a rain garden has been installed.
This work has been accomplished through the hard work of a variety of volunteers. Most, possibly all, of the outdoor projects are headed up by Bill Shanabruch. Bill is tireless in his efforts to improve the environment around the school and as a result the Reedy Creek watershed and anyone who uses Forest Hill Park or the James River benefits. Bill doesn’t work alone, some projects have required professionals and the school has found an willing and skilled partner in Ian Johnson of Greener Landscapes. Ian is responsible for the creation of both the Historic Bayscape and most recently the rain garden. Ian’s methodology in building of the rain garden has brought the school kudos from erosion experts. Bill, Ian, and the school have also had to turn to volunteers to meet it’s lofty goals. As well as the various committees that help out the school often puts out the call for volunteers through such outlets as Hills and Heights and HandsOn Greater Richmond.
If you know of some similar volunteer efforts going on at other local schools please send me your story and I’ll be happy to publish.